Abstract: Disaster Preparedness Among Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi-American Communities (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

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391P Disaster Preparedness Among Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi-American Communities

Friday, January 12, 2024
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Smitha Rao, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, OH
Joonmo Kang, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Kansas, KS
Joyce Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Experiences of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi-Americans (APIDA) are under-researched in disaster and climate justice scholarship in the United States, despite higher environmental burdens on minoritized groups. APIDA, when considered, are often either lumped together or omitted from analysis owing to smaller relative numbers, which erases the diversity and cultural differences. APIDA are diverse, and the heterogeneity of experience within this demographic needs to be understood better. To address this gap, we examine disaster preparedness among APIDA considering key contextual factors.


We used nationally representative data from the American Housing Surveys 2017. The dependent variable was the sum of nine preparatory items similar to disaster preparedness studies and guidelines. The key independent variable was a categorical variable denoting category APIDA (Indian American, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Pacific Islander) and biracial and multiracial APIDA householders. We included socio-demographic covariates spanning socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and housing information. Since many APIDA are immigrants, we also included householder citizenship as a covariate. APIDA are more likely to be multigenerational, so we created a measure of overcrowding per the World Health Organization’s housing and health guidelines. We used ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to examine the associations in this study.


On average, respondents in our sample (N=2031) scored 4.8 on a scale of nine preparedness measures. The typical respondent was 47 years old, and homes had about two adults in every household; 40% of the households were headed by women, and 16% of all homes had children under the age of six. Nearly 29% of the sample were not U.S. citizens, and about 28% lived in crowded homes. The OLS regression was statistically significant, and the variables in the model explained 10.51% of the variance in disaster preparedness (R2=0.1051; Adjusted R2= 0.0953; p<0.001). Marital (-0.65, p<0.01, -0. 46, P<0.01) and rental status (-0.62, p<0.001) were significantly associated with lower preparedness in the overall sample. We ran multiple models across APIDA categories to examine trends within each subgroup. Across all subgroups of APIDA, except for Korean, Vietnamese, and Multiracial groups, renters were less prepared compared to those who owned their homes, and this association was statistically significant. Korean (-0.99, p<0.05) and Chinese (-0.82, p<0.01) respondents who were not U.S. citizens were less prepared compared to those who were born or naturalized as U.S. citizens.


Our results show differences in preparedness by different contextual factors among the APIDA community, especially pertaining to marital status and housing tenure. Disaster preparedness must include generic information for all but also recognize the diversity within the Asian community and acknowledge unique experiences and challenges faced by different subgroups by APIDA to be effective. Further research is needed on specific needs of APIDA to develop effective preparedness and response strategies. Community-based organizations serving APIDA can play a vital role in bridging the gap and providing culturally-sensitive disaster preparedness information and resources.